Our Opinion

Progress against the National Standards for out of home care – national survey of the views of children

The National Standards for out of home care are a joint initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments, under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020.

The 13 National Standards focus on the key factors that influence better outcomes for children and young people who are under the statutory care of the relevant minister or chief executive in states and territories. These are: health; education; care planning; connection to family; culture and community; transition from care; training and support for carers; belonging and identity; and safety, stability and security.

The standards were designed to drive improvements in the consistency and quality of care provided to children and young people and each standard has indicators as a means by which progress against these National Standards could be monitored over time.  The indicators include eight child-reported measures to help give children in care a voice.  These voices have been collected by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), who conducted the second national data collection in 2018 on the views of children and young people in out of home care using the child-reported indicators under the National Standards for out of home care.

The resulting report The views of children and young people in out of home care, overview of indicator results for the second national survey, 2018 aims to assist governments, policymakers and service providers identify changes and improvements through providing important insights into children’s experiences in out of home care.

The data has been compiled from a sample of children aged 8 – 17 years who were in living in out of home care.  2428 children responded to the survey.  All states and territories collected the data as part of their case management processes during the period 1 January to 30 June 1018.

Key findings:

  • 92% of children in out of home care reported that they felt safe and settled in their current placement
  • 97% reported that they had an adult who cares about what happens to them now and in the future
  • 72% of children felt satisfied with the type of contact they had with family members they did not live with
  • 64% of children aged 15 – 17 years felt they were getting enough help to make decisions about their future
  • A further 26% reported they were getting some help but wanted more
  • 66% of children reported they usually get to have a say in what happens to them and that people usually listen to what they have to say
  • Children living in residential care tended to report less positive experiences of care than children living in other arrangements

The survey revealed that there was little, if any, difference between the first survey in 2015 and the 2018 survey.

Read the full report.

The National Standards for out of home care can be viewed here.

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3 Comments

  1. Angela Fiumara on March 31, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    I am wondering about the ways in which to elicit the views of children under the age of 8 years? As this literature has only highlighted the views of children aged between 8-17.

  2. Stephanie Fielder on April 10, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Good point Angela. Interesting, as we don’t seem to see it happen in Queensland that much, but a basic internet search provides a lot of information about consulting with young children, even as young as three years of age, and there are a range of tools and resources designed to support children’s participation.

    Most reference our underlying obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Article 12, ‘Respect for the views of the child’ “When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.”

    From brief reading the increased interest in giving children a voice in decisions and services for them
    has accompanied the emergence of a new conception of children as active citizens, bringing their own value and influence to the world.

    The following reference is a particularly detailed Australian framework, informed by a research study, describing how to go about seeking views from children which has been used in a variety of settings.

    Harris, P., & Manatakis, H. (2013). Children’s Voices: A principled framework for children
    and young people’s participation as valued citizens and learners. University of South
    Australia in partnership with the South Australian Department for Education and Child
    Development, Adelaide.
    https://www.education.sa.gov.au/sites/g/files/net691/f/childrens-voices-framework.pdf

    The following two links are other examples of guides

    A combined initiative of various local government councils, the Victorian Department of
    Education and Early Childhood Development and a Primary School, 2013
    http://www.ballarat.vic.gov.au/media/2266894/engaging_children_in_decision_making_a_guide_for_consulting_children.pdf
    New South Wales Government, Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People, 2019
    https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2019/01/apo-nid217741-1280776.pdf

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